KING AHASUERUS OF PERSIA, better known as Xerxes, decided to throw a party that would make the Darktown Strutters' Ball look like a nursery tea. He invited not only everybody who was anybody, but everybody who was nobody in particular too, and as far as expense went, the sky was the limit. It was to last for seven days, and the palace was turned upside down getting ready for it. New blue-and-white curtains were hung in all the windows, silver couches were moved in by the cartload, and drinks were served in goblets of pure gold. Vashti, the king's wife and queen, decided that the boys shouldn't be the only ones to enjoy themselves, so she threw a party of her own and asked in all the girls.

By the time the seventh day rolled around, the king was feeling no pain. Having shown off all his other treasures, he decided the moment had come to show off Queen Vashti too. She was a raving beauty, and he wanted to see the rest of the boys turn green with envy when he paraded her around in front of them for a while. So he sent word to her through a couple of eunuchs to get down there in a hurry. On the grounds that she was a human being rather than a silver couch and that a woman was as good as a man any day, she refused to be trotted out as a sex object and turned the king down flat.

Needless to say, the king was fit to be tied. Not only had he and his friends been personally insulted, but if Vashti was allowed to get away with a thing like that, who could tell what the girls would be up to next. Maybe even asking for the vote. Therefore he divorced her on the spot and married a lady named Esther instead.

That is how Queen Vashti lost her throne but kept her self-respect, and there seems to be absolutely no question as to which of the two she valued more highly.

Esther 1-2 

-Originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words

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